"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," – John 1:29

HISTORY OF LUTHERAN CHURCH IN PNG

Rev. Johann FlierlThe Church of Christ began with Christ and his disciples in Jerusalem. It spread to Judea, then to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. From Neuendettelsau, the founding father of world mission, Rev.William Lohe started sending missionaries out from his small village congregation to America, Australia and to the rest of the world including Papua New Guinea.

 On 12th July 1886, Rev.Johannes Flierl (left) landed in Simbang; Lae, Papua New Guinea from Australia. After 48 years from the time of the first Lutheran Missionary on PNG soil, the church began to expand and grow in the interior highlands of Papua New Guinea.

 The people of Western Highlands lived in their own tribes and sub-clans led by big men/leaders (wu nem). They were subsistence farmers and depended entirely on food produced in the garden. Land was owned and shared through kinship by father to son. A ceremonial ground was kept for each tribe and occasionally big ceremonies such as paying of bride prices, pig killing and exchange of pigs and goods (moka) was held in these sacred ceremonial grounds (moka pena).

Men and younger boys lived in the roundhouse (manga rapa) and women with infants; especially their daughters and the pigs lived separately in their own long houses (manga ambnga). The special meetings and decisions regarding running of communities, festivities, pig killing, bride price ceremonies, funerals, warfare and peace negotiations were conducted in the round house.

600px-Lutherrose_svgWomen and children were normally excluded from such important gatherings. A big man’s status was determined by a number of pigs, kina shells, gardens and wives he had.

 The teachings of their noble traditions, mores, folklores and customs were passed on to their children by word of mouth. Men in the round house taught the boys and girls acquired their coaching from their mothers in the women’s long house. Traditional regulations and rules made by chiefs and leaders were strictly followed and these set of traditional laws existed even before the arrival of the explorers and missionaries. The common traditional rules that existed were not to:

ψ  Steal from others;

ψ   take away lives of people who were not their enemies;

ψ   forcefully have sex or rape other women and young girls;

ψ  covet their brother or tribesmen’s wife and properties; and

ψ  have in their possession harmful traditional poison or drugs.

The strongly held believe was that if such common rules were not abided by the people then the men and their immediate families would experience great sufferings, pain, diseases or even death. It seemed that every village and communities had common traditional set of rules, which guided their conduct and way of life.